New guidance for social workers on publication of court judgments

Guidance from The Transparency Project aims to help practitioners and families understand when, why and how judgments might be published

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New guidance for practitioners and parents about the publication of family court judgments has been released.

The Transparency Project, a charity that aims to promote a better understanding of the family court system, produced the practice note to help families understand when, why and how judgments might be published.

Lucy Reed, chair of The Transparency Project, said the group hopes it will help make sure judgments are reliably anonymised before they are published, and help professionals and families support the publication of family court judgments without jeopardising privacy or welfare.

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“We hope that our guide will be used by lawyers, social workers and children’s guardian to talk though questions of publication of judgments with the children and parents they are working with, so that safe transparency can be facilitated where possible, and unnecessary anxiety avoided,” Reed said.

Anonymised

The guidance gives tips on how to make sure a judgment is anonymised, and what people involved in cases need to do if they do or don’t want cases published. It also lists the pros and cons about publishing court judgments to best inform participants about the risks and benefits.

“It won’t tell you whether or not publication is a “good idea” in the case you are involved in. Every case is different. This guidance note gives those making decisions some structure to help people make informed choices and to be a part of decision making around publication,” it said.

The publication of family court judgments is a contentious issue that has become more prominent in recent years.

Since 2014, guidance has said judges should send certain types of family court judgments for publication on BAILII, unless there are compelling reasons not to.

Last year, Sir James Munby, the president of the Family Courts, said he would draft new guidance for anonymising and publishing judgments.

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